The month of June saw two changes in the world of Marquette lacrosse as both programs brought in a new assistant coach. Jill Rizzo was announced by head coach Meredith Black for the women’s staff on June 16th, while men’s head coach Andrew Stimmel finalized the hiring of Bo Lori on June 25th.
Pleased to welcome our new assistant coach, Bo Lori! #WeAreMarquette@BoLori13 played in the 2017 NCAA title game and helped coach @UVAMensLax to the 2019 NCAA .— Marquette Lacrosse (@MarquetteMLax) June 25, 2021
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Rizzo replaces Emilia Ward on the Marquette staff after two seasons. It’s a fascinating hire from an experience perspective, as Rizzo walks in as a full-time assistant with absolutely zero coaching experience. With that said, there’s a very good reason for that: Rizzo was wearing Ohio State’s goalie gear in the 2021 season.
On top of that, Rizzo was pretty damn good at playing goalie for the Buckeyes. She started in all but two games in her entire Ohio State career, logging over 4,000 minutes in five seasons (she played an extra season thanks to a COVID-bonus year) while compiling a goals-against average of 12.97 and a save percentage of .469. Rizzo is Ohio State’s all-time leader in career saves and one of just two Buckeyes to record at least 200 career ground balls. A four time team captain, Rizzo capped off her collegiate career with Second Team All-Big Ten honors even though the Buckeyes finished just 4-7 on the year.
Here’s Black on her new assistant:
“I am so excited for the addition of Jill to our program,” Black said. “Her experience and success as a goalie at the Division I level speaks for itself. She has an extremely high-level lacrosse IQ and I know she will work wonders with our defense and goalies as our new assistant coach. Jill is very motivated and eager to jump in and make us better.”
And Rizzo on her first job out of college:
“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity provided by coach Black on the Marquette women’s lacrosse coaching staff,” Rizzo said. ”I am honored to be a part of the rich culture of excellence at MU and I’m so excited to get started!”
Marquette went 7-9 in 2021, snapping a three year run of finishing .500 or better overall and missing the Big East tournament for the first time since 2017. Rizzo is going to have a big task in front of her right out of the gate to help push MU back into a winning record, as 2021 marked the final collegiate season for both Sophia Leva and Jules Horning, two of the only three regular starting goalies in program history. Returning goalies Bella Dervin and Delaney Friel have a combined 12 minutes of collegiate experience in front of them, while grad transfer Amanda Rumsey arrives at MU after four seasons tending the net at Butler in Years 2 through 5 of that program’s history.
Bo Lori is a fascinating addition to Andrew Stimmel’s staff, or perhaps I should say he is a fascinating change to Stimmel’s staff. Lori is replacing Peet Poillon, who was the one external hire that Stimmel made when he was hired as MU’s second ever head coach back in the spring of 2019. I’m not exactly sure what’s up with Poillon now other than he’s not at Marquette, which makes the change interesting all on its own.
To make things even more curious, Lori’s experience seems to be primarily on the defensive side of the ball, and at a glance, that would seem to be pretty well covered by current Marquette assistant coach Jake Richard. Lori’s collegiate career started with a year as a long stick midfielder at Lehigh, and then he was a short stick defensive midfielder for three seasons at Ohio State. From there, he signed up as a volunteer assistant coach at Virginia, where he helped out head coach Lars Tiffany on the defensive side of things. The Cavaliers won a national championship in 2019, Lori’s first season in Charlottesville and missed a chance to defend their title in 2020 due to the pandemic. Lori moved on to Ohio State for the 2021 season, again as a volunteer assistant coach, before getting his first paying gig at Marquette.
Here’s what Stimmel had to say about his new assistant:
“Bo emerged out of a deep and talented candidate pool as someone we feel identifies directly with our guys and aligns perfectly with our program and greater university mission” Stimmel said. “In speaking with coaches and former players, it was apparent that Coach Lori is an incredible connector and relationship builder.”
“Outside of his impressive track record as a young rising star in our profession, the number one thing that stuck out to me was how highly his former players spoke of him,” Stimmel said. “They loved playing for him and have a deep trust in his ability to make them better as athletes and people. We are thrilled to welcome Coach Lori to the Marquette Family!”
And here’s Lori’s official quote on his new job:
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to join the Marquette Lacrosse family,” Lori said “In only a few short years as a program, it is remarkable how quickly Marquette has put its stamp on Division I lacrosse. The rapid growth of the program speaks volumes to the leadership at the helm of Marquette Athletics, as well as the hard work and dedication of those who have put a Marquette jersey over their shoulders. I could not be more excited to join Coach Stimmel, Coach (Jake) Richard, and the rest of the staff in the pursuit of excellence at Marquette.”
2021 was arguably the worst season of lacrosse at Marquette since the inception of the program. The Golden Eagles started out the year with five straight losses, marking the first time that the team had ever opened the season with two straight defeats much less five straight. They bounced back to go 4-3 in the final seven games, but a 0-5 start in Big East play will go a long way towards ruining your season. It’s not all bad news, though, as part of MU’s struggles was the fact that the Big East opted to have everyone in the league play each other twice due to the pandemic. When your league has three teams that start the year in the top 20 poll and you’re not one of them, well, things are generally speaking going to go bad for you, and that’s what happened to Marquette.
It’s safe to say that the thunderous offense that may have been predicted by the hiring of first Andrew Stimmel and then Peet Poillon never quite materialized in their two seasons together at Marquette. It remains to be seen what kind of an effect that Lori will have on the coaching direction of the team, but there is still room for optimism in Stimmel’s leadership after a young team had their season cut off by the pandemic and the Golden Eagles just got rammed through a wood chipper by the scheduling decision made by their conference.